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Oct 27, 2009 8:08 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Fishing license injunction extended again; attorney general refuses to take case

Oct 27, 2009 8:08 PM

The court injunction halting the enforcement of New York State’s new Marine Recreational Fishing License has again been extended, this time until November 19.

Southampton Town Senior Assistant Town Attorney Joseph Lombardo said Southampton, East Hampton and Shelter Island towns had been scheduled to meet the state in court in Central Islip last Thursday, October 22, in front of Acting Supreme Court Justice Patrick Sweeney, who is considering the towns’ challenge to the state’s authority to enact the license laws in their jurisdictions. However, Mr. Lombardo said he received a letter the day before that informing him that the state attorney general’s office wanted more time to prepare its case and requested an adjournment.

He also learned that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is refusing to represent New York in the case.

The injunction, a temporary restraining order, was first granted by Justice William Rebolini on September 30, just hours before the much criticized licenses were put into effect. This is the second time the injunction has been extended.

“The temporary restraining order remains in effect, so the case is basically at a standstill,” Mr. Lombardo said.

The adjournment gives the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation the opportunity to sit down with the growing number of towns that have stood against the new licenses and try to negotiate a resolution outside of court, Mr. Lombardo said. The towns of Oyster Bay, Huntington and Brookhaven have each made moves to join the effort to block enforcement of the new state license law.

Mr. Lombardo said Mr. Cuomo realized that if a judge makes a declaratory judgment on the matter, it could set a dangerous precedent for the state and make a declaration of rights for municipalities.

“You never know what a judge is going to rule, and the DEC could have wound up with a ruling that is a total disaster in their point of view,” Mr. Lombardo said. The attorney general would be bound by whatever decision the court issues, he added. “It could hamper the way they do business.”

The applies only to areas where the trustees of the three towns have jurisdiction and does not effect the license requirement in any way beyond the East End or apply to fishermen on boats outside of town waters or in Montauk. The East Hampton Town Trustees’ authority does not include the Montauk area.

The state license is the first blanket requirement placed on those fishing in saltwater in the state’s history. The license costs state residents $10 for an annual license, or $150 for a lifetime license. The estimated $2 million to $3 million raised by the fees will go into a statewide environmental account that is used to fund a variety of conservation and enforcement programs.

Brendan O’Reilly

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putting a license on salt water fishing out here is economic suicide for the local bayman.
By local (106), north sea on Oct 22, 09 9:40 PM
i am completely against the idea of these permits, but i dont know if its really accurate to call it "economic suicide." my understanding is that its $10/yr or $150/lifetime. its cheap, all things considered, but that doesnt make it right.
By tm (174), mtk on Oct 24, 09 8:19 PM
1 member liked this comment
Its cheap until the DEC raises it to $20 the next year, $25 the year after that, and so on.
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on Oct 27, 09 11:13 AM
longisland already sends new york state more taxes than we get back in services they are just trying to reach a little deeper into our pockets as there are few saltwater fishermen upstate.
By montaukman (98), easthampton on Oct 27, 09 9:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
Saltwater fishing has always been free and Eastenders take it as a god given right. It's a shame that the State decided to place fees on everything there is. How about lowering the amount of entitlements, then you wouldn't have to raise taxes and fees!
By Walt (292), Southampton on Nov 4, 09 6:54 PM